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WITH A MAGICIAN OF CAIRO              89
a small hall where a scene of indescribable confusion was being enacted.
The hall was plunged in complete darkness.
People were stumbling over each other trying to get to the door, groanings and mutterings were coming from those who had tripped up on the floor, while above all the din and disorder came the strident voice of their master, a voice laden with fear and despair:
"The devil is here/' he was shouting. "This is the devil's work."
I struck some matches and found him lying prone on the platform, apparently quite hysterical.
Candles were eventually brought and his disciples carried him off to a nearby hotel, where they tried to revive him with his favourite drink—whisky. Meanwhile I learnt from the others what had happened.
They had all been sitting peacefully upon their chairs listening to their leader's lecture when all the electric lamps had suddenly exploded with the force of bombs, shattering glass in every direction. The hall had instantly become dark and amidst the resulting gloom and chaos they had heard their leader fall heavily to the platform floor, uttering cries of fright.
I followed him to the hotel, went into the lounge and wrote a short note which I put into a sealed envelope. I handed the letter to the chief of his deluded followers and requested that it should be given to the leader as soon as he was well enough to read.
The envelope contained an ultimatum. The man must leave the town within twenty-four hours and never return again, or else I would put Police Headquarters on his track.
He left. Within twelve months I learned of his death in an obscure country village.
And now for the curious point of the whole story.
The hall had been plunged in darkness at the very moment when my Indian friend's rite of cursing reached its culminating point!
My second anecdote concerns the ill-fated Lord Carnarvon, who financed the excavations that led up to the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb. All the world is familiar with the story of that astonishing discovery, of how the unfortunate peer swiftly contracted blood-poisoning shortly after the opening. Some people also know that the ancients placed a curse on the